Computer technology is inbred in Daniel. His home country is one of the highest technologically literate countries in the world with the largest concentration of scientists, technicians and engineers per capita. In fact, Israel ranks just behind the U.S. as the most important high-tech center in the world, and Tel Aviv is considered the second-most influential breeding ground for startups and entrepreneurs after the Silicon Valley.
Daniel’s education started early. He remembers being about six years old and watching his father write computer code. “I was sitting on my father’s knee when he was developing on some ancient languages. I read some of what he was writing and asked him what it would do. He was writing in BASIC, and I saw that with the command PRINT there was an immediate reaction, and I wanted to do that too. So I started writing in BASIC and Pascal and other ancient languages.”
A few years later, his uncle bought a computer and a new-fangled accessory called the mouse. But the computer didn’t have the capability of communicating with the mouse, rendering it useless. So Daniel and his father wrote programs to drive it, so that an action taken by the mouse would produce a corresponding reaction on the computer, something we take for granted today.
By the time he was about 14, he’d been hired by Aran Electronics, a video, security and communications company. “You see that I didn’t have time for college. I went directly to life and a busy career.”
Now Daniel manages his own software engineering company and also serves as the CTO for NetSource Ltd., whose offices are located just outside of Jerusalem. The IT services company employs about 300 people spread among three divisions that use technology solutions to help businesses maximize their earning potential. One of those ways, of course, is through ecommerce.
While Israel may be a technology leader, its retail sector has been slow to embrace ecommerce. “Until recently, it hasn’t been taken very seriously. But in the last year as people have seen their sales drop, they started to understand that they have to be online. Shoppers aren’t coming to stores anymore. They shop on the computer, and wherever they land from Google, they expect to find a product and be able to buy it.”
Even Daniel’s mother has felt the pinch. She runs a small shop that sells bridal gowns, but recently more and more women were coming into her store with dresses they bought online from China. They were coming to her to tailor the dresses instead of buying dresses directly from her. So Daniel started looking for a simple way that people like his mother, as well as some of his clients, could set up an online shop.
“I was looking for a solution, and I came across many systems in my research. I found some nice CMS’s that were pretending to be great, but when you go into the GitHub pages, you find out that the project is dead. I was disappointed, project after project. Then I landed on the Reaction Commerce GitHub, and there was a link to the Reaction Commerce Vision page. I went there, and it caught my eye right away. There was already a beautiful list of features that are planned and ones that are already implemented. Things like an advanced tax system, live updates, multiple currencies, and many other features that are hard to develop and implement. These features shouldn’t just be a part of high-priced systems, but available as open source. And on Reaction Commerce, it’s not only that it’s work that’s done for you but it’s the vision they have for what’s coming. It’s something I really wanted to be a part of it.”
Since then, Daniel has provided the Hebrew translation for Reaction Commerce, and he’s currently working on right-to-left adjustments. And he has plans to do more. “Even though it’s not yet ready for commercial use, it’s still very advanced. And working with them now at this stage allows me to watch them mature and to be a part of how the system looks in a few months when we can start working with them on a larger scale.”
Daniel’s interest in Reaction Commerce is both personal and professional. In Israel, there seems to be three preferred ecommerce platforms: Magento, Ubercart and WordPress (WooCommerce). The good news is that all of them are open source but unfortunately they’re also archaic, limited and lack features that customers want. So in Daniel’s opinion, none of them are good options.
“A few companies request to work with Magento, but many don’t understand that to get the advanced features, you have to pay Magento, you have to have a developer license. And because there’s a lot that you cannot know just looking at the free version, we have to send developers to the official Magento courses. So when companies ask about Magento, we tell them that it’s a process we don’t necessarily want to go through. And many developers do not even try to use it because I think they feel like it won’t be around for a long time.”
So Daniel and his colleagues have sometimes turned to a more basic shopping cart system called Ubercart, but they’ve quickly discovered its pitfalls. “With Ubercart, even to do small things, you have to change core modules, and it’s hell to do that. Developers are starting to refuse to make changes because it takes too much time. You really bang your head on the table and ask yourself, why did I choose Ubercart?”
By far the most requested ecommerce solution in Israel and, in fact, the single-most used ecommerce platform in the world is WooCommerce by WordPress. And although it comes with attractive advantages, there are also significant limitations. “WordPress is not as good as commercial platforms but companies look at the simple list of features WordPress provides, and they decide they can live with that list and develop the rest later. Websites are up and running quickly, and you don’t have to pay for licenses, and it costs a lot less in development and ongoing admin. In Israel right now, every company, big or small, wants WordPress.
“But there’s a weak spot in WordPress that plays to Reaction Commerce’s strengths. WordPress began as a blogging system, so everything you want to do that’s website oriented instead of blogging, you have to install a plugin. Even basic website features, like breadcrumbs. Why doesn’t the system have breadcrumbs from the ground up? You have to download and install a plugin for every feature you want, things that should be the foundation of the platform, like multiple languages. And you have to pay for many of those plugins or third-party services that you string together to get them to work, and that’s hard. They don’t always work because they’re not always compatible. So if I could tell people they could use Reaction Commerce and not install a single plugin or third-party service, nobody will want WordPress.”
At Reaction Commerce, we’re just as excited as Daniel about the opportunity to provide a better choice for developers, engineers and business owners everywhere. For all of you waiting for the next generation, mobile ready, marketing first ecommerce platform, we just have two little words: Coming Soon!